Katharina, you were preparing the Young Forum for an entire year. Having spent five days with the participants, what did surprise you?
It was great to see the good group dynamics and to learn about so many visions of future pastors. It is obvious that there is hope for the churches in Europe.
Which vision did encourage you specifically?
Henk de Roest spoke about new ways of being church in times of decreasing membership and Sunday Service attendance. There are many ideas I want to take into my own parish. It would be great to organize a youth gathering on a European level.
Will there be another Young Forum?
I hope so. Ecumenical documents are important, but we need more encounters like this – with a huge variety of participants with different experiences and points of view.
Rev. Katharina Meckbach was working for one year in the Office of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe in Vienna. She just started working as parish pastor in Bischofsheim (Germany).
In almost every country there is a strong need to find new solutions to tackle the constant abandonment of churches. Sometimes to falsify numbers are the so-called “non-practicing believers”.
Young people, new generations are the future of our churches. It may seem obvious, but young people continue to defect the churches and there are not really good strategies to contain the phenomenon. Now we and our churches don’t know how to involve them more, make them protagonists and make them active and constant elements. What are the possible solutions? Difficult to answer but every church is chasing time, the society in constant change and the new generations just to find winning solutions.
It would perhaps be appropriate to include a percentage of young people in each assembly in order to give them training and to enable them to better understand every aspect of the church-world? Perhaps we must urge young people to find new words that express their relationship with God?
May our faith and our desire to communicate the Gospel be a reliable compass that shows us the right direction.
As we talk about responsibility, hope and visibility on the final full day of our conference, I am mindful that just two days ago we stood in front of Bonhoeffer, who wrote that we are only free in as much as we are ‘bound to the other’. (creation and fall, 1933).
As Britain prepares to leave the EU, a reality that is deeply painful for many of us, the Church must think again about our responsibilities in relation to the state.
We have taken EU law, such as human rights law, for granted, allowing the Church to assume the norms of love and justice as realities that are foundational our voice in society.
Tomorrow, these foundations will crumble. Christians, as well as others, will need to speak out for the values of love and justice, mandating a new constitutional framework which can ground our care for the other and, as such, our freedom.
Since I got the information on the Protestant Churches in Estonia and Poland I was able to upload short reports on these two countries.
The changing dynamics of religious identities in Europe.
Here in Wrocław the view from the balcony of Centrum Ewangelickie, where we are gathered together as young protestant theologians in Europe, exemplifies the contemporary shifting or dancing of identities: personal, religious and cultural.
The postmodern subjective turn has recontextualised our personal identities and cultural assumptions leading to upheaval in the religious landscape.
Many Christians are afraid: of declining numbers, dwindling hope, divisive opinion and, if we are really honest, the possibility that the institutional church(es) and their traditions will die.
Here, though, the overwhelming feeling is one of hope. Be it through changing attitudes to LGBT people, the genuine spiritual seeking of young people, political engagement, the emergence of new ways of being church or simply the chance to converse together, we witness to the dancing of the Spirit, which draws us towards the future.
Our individual and cultural identities are different and yet we are in communion. We are unity and diversity. We talk, drink, laugh, pray and mourn together. We seek reformation, change, growth in Spirit and understanding. And as we walk together, following in the footsteps of Jesus, we are the body of Christ.
We are ecclesia.
Ps. To contact me or find out more about my own work, please visit www.transgenderchristianhuman.com
This morning we had very interesting talks on the situation of Protestantism in our respective countries. We are living in very different situations, but I have the feeling that our questions and preoccupations are similar, as well as our hopes. How can we learn from each other, share our ideas and experiences and build the Church of tomorrow together ?